How to Revive Underexposed Photos with Lightroom

Unlocking the potential of underexposed images is a crucial skill for photographers, enabling them to salvage photos that might otherwise be considered lost causes. This helpful video tutorial will show you how to do just that using Lightroom.

Coming to you from Christian Möhrle - The Phlog Photography, this instructive video offers a deep dive into the process of restoring an underexposed photo using Adobe Lightroom. Möhrle begins by addressing the common predicament of choosing not to shoot an HDR sequence to preserve the desired effects in a long-exposure shot, thus resulting in a significantly underexposed image. The tutorial emphasizes the importance of adjusting the base exposure correctly to recover details from the shadows without causing overexposure. The switch from the Adobe Color to Adobe Neutral profile is highlighted as a critical step in this process, showcasing how it provides a better starting point for editing by preserving details in both highlights and shadows.

Möhrle's tutorial stands out for its comprehensive approach to correcting underexposure while maintaining the image's aesthetic appeal. The process of raising exposure, adjusting highlights, and manipulating shadows and blacks to achieve a soft, glowing look is meticulously detailed. This approach not only rescues the photo but also enhances its mood, particularly fitting for the warm sunrise scene being edited. Additionally, the video addresses the nuances of adjusting white balance, vibrance, and saturation post-exposure correction, underscoring the intricacies of color correction in photo editing.

Furthermore, the tutorial gets into the use of local adjustments and masking to refine the image further. Techniques such as applying linear and radial gradients to selectively darken or enhance certain parts of the image, like the sky or the foreground, illustrate the power of Lightroom's local adjustment tools. These steps are essential for adding depth, contrast, and a sense of dimensionality to the image, culminating in a visually compelling composition. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Möhrle.

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out our latest tutorial, "Photographing the World: Japan With Elia Locardi!" 

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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